I believe that just by employing ourselves we already make a difference. We aren’t on the unemployed list and thus not drawing from the State purse. But I’ve been pondering a few ways in which we might make a bigger difference. Some are quite small and you may be doing them already. Or it may require a little thoughtfulness at first while we create new habits, but lots of little gestures will add up and may encourage us to do more.
As an entrepreneur, perhaps the best thing I can do right now is to create even a part-time job for another human being, instantly doubling my headcount, or find ways to outsource more. All too often the word “outsourcing” can mean exporting lowly-paid chores to nations where their cost of living is tiny compared to our own so we get services for our business at a bargain rate. And that’s great on one level in that you are contributing to those economies, just like we do when travelling. But with a bit of thought you might decide which specific economy you want to make a difference in, possibly your own. Yes, you might pay a bit more, possibly even a lot more, but it is the sort of contribution you might decide you want to make. I think of it like the National Lottery. I don’t always win but whether or not I win, I am always making a donation to good causes.
Paying others promptly makes a difference too. I pay my suppliers on the day their invoice is due so that they can come to rely on me for that. I do not contract to buy anything which I do not know how I am going to pay for thus risking keeping my supplier waiting. How long would you want to be kept waiting for your invoice to be paid? Go first. Be the change you want to see in this world.
I print less and recycle more of those supplies I must use in my business. In 2012 I moved over to filing online, instead of printing everything out and filing in lever-arch files. This has been a major change for me. As an accountant still at heart, we do love to print and store a paper copy of everything. But as these copies are requested less and less by increasingly efficient government agencies who also favour online solutions, this paves the way for my change despite a few exceptions still needing to remain.
Typically we only hear from each other when things are going wrong. How depressing! Wouldn’t it be great if we all became much more polite and thankful, if only for a day now and then when we deliberately seek out an unsung hero or heroine and offer a heart-felt thank you? I have been experimenting with a close friend and colleague, acknowledging each other for good work. This creates some hilarity because it feels cheesy initially and slightly embarrassing. But who could you pat on the back today with sincere and well thought-out appreciation? Make sure it is heard and acknowledged. It’s all too easy to brush off thank-yous and positive feedback. Don’t let your recipient off the hook too easily. Make sure they acknowledge your thoughts and feel good; make their day.
Respecting the office hours and privacy of others comes next. Just because we all decide to work whenever we want 24/7, doesn’t mean we should expect an unreasonably fast response. If you work with other small businesses and solopreneurs especially, make a new rule to contact them only during office hours wherever possible and ask first before you interrupt them by Skype or telephone. Same goes for emails. Choose not to send one every time you have a thought. Save them all up and opt instead for one efficient email per day. Help your correspondents to keep their inbox below overwhelm level and they will love you for it.
What are your ideas for your small business which combined would make some big differences in our entrepreneurial world? What positive changes could you make with a little thoughtfulness?